Monday, August 25, 2008

Johnny Gaddar

In my last post I mentioned about watching some movies and this Sriram Raghavan written and directed crime thriller ‘Johnny Gaddar’ is one of them. My elder brother Alok recommended me this movie with a positive review which is quite strange from him especially for a new bollywood movie. I got to watch the movie only recently and am really overwhelmed by it and truly think it deserves the appreciation that it got from him.

This is a crime thriller story about a gang of five criminals who are into a big deal that involves 2.5 crore rupees. They have always been partners in any deal or crime that they have committed but this time with this much of money involved, one of them has another idea about the deal. He is the traitor in the gang, ‘the Johnny Gaddar’, who plans to get hold of the money and elope with her girlfriend. In the process, he unintentionally kills one of his friends and then starts a series of murders to conceal his betrayal. The series of murder involves all his partners and ends with his own.

The story is as simple as this but the twists and turns that come in the movie at regular intervals doesn’t leave it that a simple one. Every single time when the ‘Gaddar’ feels that all the hurdles are gone, a new thrill comes in and twists the whole story again. I think that these twists and turns in a thriller movie are the things that make it great and only these things when used a bit injudiciously or hazily can make it thoroughly complicated. Well! In this case this is the beautifully knitted story by Sriram Raghavan that makes the movie so clear yet so thrilling. Although there are a lot of things about the movie that gives it a place among the best, the presentation of the story is the best thing about the movie as far as my view is concerned. Next to it among the goods about the movie comes the freshness of the theme in the Indian film industry. How many times we get a movie wherein we are completely confused whether the protagonist in the film is the hero or a villain. The character of Vikram, the ‘gaddar’, played beautifully by Neil Nitin Mukesh is a character for which one is not sure whether to keep sympathy or to curse him. Not many times in Hindi movies we get such a situation. This is not the only thing fresh about the movie. Not in many Hindi movies we have all the lead characters dead in the end. There have been movies like ‘Deewar’, ‘Sholay’ or ‘Fanaa’ where we have the hero dead in the end but ‘Kaante’ is the movie that, I think, comes the nearest to this one in this regard (In fact, these two movies have a lot of things in common, anyways). Presenting such a story to the Indian audience really needs courage. Hats off!!!

Another fresh thing in the movie was Neil Nitin Mukesh in the title role. He has looked fresh, charming, handsome and elegant and above all has performed with even more elegance. He is really promising and presently, I think, the best starlet in the industry (although, of course, his father Nitin Mukesh was not a star singer, his grandfather Mukesh was a real superstar as a singer). Along with Neil, other actors have also given fine performances. Dharmendra is back again with one more inning in the films. I really don’t know how many comebacks he is going to make in this industry. Zakir Hussain again is brilliant and so is Vinay Pathak in a completely different kind of a role. He is always known for his roles as comedian in ‘Bheja Fry’, ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’, ‘Manorama Six Feet under’ and many more but this time he is completely different. Ashwini Kalsekar as Vinay’s wife is, as others, awesome.

Sriram’s story and direction, as mentioned earlier, is outstanding. He never intended to make it a suspense drama and does not keep it hidden from the audience about the traitor yet he manages to put so much of suspense and thrill in the film, really commendable!!!!!!! He has dedicated this film, as given in the opening credits, to the thriller maestros Vijay Anand and James Hadley Chase. I have not read Chase yet, so can’t say much on him. As for Vijay Anand, I didn’t know before this that he is treated as a thriller maestro. I remember him for ‘Haqeeqat’ and ‘Kora Kaaghaz’ and in both these cases there was nothing like thriller. Besides, I also remember him for his detective teleserial ‘Tahqeeqat’ that was aired on Doordarshan some 12-15 years ago in which he acted as Sam DeSilva, the detective. Here, this was a bit nearer to be called a thriller; still, I can’t figure anything else out of him that can give me an impression of him as a thriller maestro. That may be my lack of knowledge and nothing else. So, thanks in a sense to the director for improving my knowledge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One more thing about the opening credits that I liked was the flavor of the 70s commercial Amitabh hits that comes up in it. The way the names are presented and the background score in the credits reminds me a lot about the great hits of the 70s. The use of the plot of ‘Parwaana’ in the film or the extraction of the title from another thriller ‘Johnny Mera Naam’ is also awesome.

All in all a fresh movie with a lot of thrill in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Wikipedia article on the film has a mistake regarding the music director of the film. According to it, Vishal-Shekhar duo is the music composer but in reality the music I composed by the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy………………….


Alok said...

Vijay Anand only acted in Haqeeqat and Kora Kagaz. The first was directed by his elder brother Chetan Anand...

He made two of the finest mystery-thrillers of bollywood: Jewel Thief and Johnny Mera Naam, to which the title of the film is a homage. Teesri Manzil was also okay though its songs are more famous. Of course his most famous film remains "Guide".

The film also makes a reference to Parwaana which is also not very well-known. This is one of the early films of Amitabh Bachchan in which he plays a negative role...

This is also a good example of the heist film genre. The wikipedia article talks about standard plots and character types that you generally see in these kinds of films. It will be hard to find any of those films there but films like The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, Rififi are all great masterpieces... Also I haven't read anything by James Hadley Chase but I hope you are not thinking of wasting your time reading any of his trash.

Aashu said...

I am sorry to say but I have watched all the Vijay Anand's film that are mentioned in this comment but didn't know exactly about their connection with Vijay Anand. I always thought Guide to be a Chetan Anand directed film since I have believed, of course not correct, that most of the Dev Anand production films that are watchable are all directed by Chetan Anand or Guru Dutt (the earlier ones, in fact, he had to leave Dev Anand's production house for his differences with Chetan); of course Dev Anand has directed, if not all, most of the other non-watchables from the banner of NavKetan.
As a tribute to Vijay Anand, the film has, in addition to its title from 'Johnny Mera Naam', one scene were the lead lady is reading the R.K.Narayan novel 'The Guide' of which the film Guide is an adaptation. As far as Chase is concerned, the hero in one scene is shown to read him.
For me, I am still left with many of Sherlock Holmes works that are on my to-read list among such genre of suspense stories, so, not at all thinking of reading Chase.

Alok said...

Yes he is generally not as celebrated as he should be so I was happy to see that he was being paid homage to so explicitly in the film.

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